Bernard Marcus

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bernard Marcus
Marcus in 2010
Born (1929-05-12) May 12, 1929 (age 94)[1]
EducationRutgers University (BS)
Occupation(s)Businessman, investor, philanthropist
Years active1978–present
Known forCo-founder of The Home Depot
Political partyRepublican
  • Ruth Rados
  • Billi Marcus

Bernard Marcus (born May 12, 1929) is an American billionaire businessman. He co-founded The Home Depot. He was the company's first CEO and first chairman until retiring in 2002.

Early life[edit]

Bernard (Bernie) Marcus was born to Russian Jewish immigrant parents in Newark, New Jersey.[2] He was the youngest of four children and grew up in a tenement. He graduated from South Side High School in 1947.[3] Marcus wanted to become a doctor, and was accepted to Harvard Medical School,[4][5] but could not afford the tuition. He graduated from Rutgers University with a pharmacy degree.[2] While there he joined the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity.[6]


Marcus worked at a drugstore as a pharmacist but became more interested in the retailing side of the business. He worked at a cosmetics company and various other retail jobs, eventually reaching a position as CEO of Handy Dan Improvement Centers, a Los Angeles-based chain of home improvement stores. In 1978, both he and future Home Depot co-founder Arthur Blank were fired during a corporate power struggle at Handy Dan.

In 1978, they co-founded the home-improvement retailer The Home Depot, with the help of merchandising expert Pat Farrah and New York investment banker Ken Langone who assembled a group of investors. The first two stores opened on June 22, 1979 in Atlanta.[7]

The store revolutionized the home improvement business with its warehouse concept. Blank, Marcus, and Langone became billionaires. Marcus served as the company's first CEO for 19 years and also served as chairman of the board until his retirement in 2002. Marcus was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 2006.

Marcus is one of several business tycoons who opposed the Employee Free Choice Act, a controversial proposal they claim gives unfair advantage to labor unions. The EFCA would outlaw conducting employee union votes with secret ballots while allowing fines and injunctions when employees show they are being punished for union activity on the job.[8]

In 2010, Marcus founded the Job Creators Network, a conservative advocacy group, with $500,000 in seed funding.[9]

In 2015, Marcus donated $1.5 million to Super PACs supporting Jeb Bush and Scott Walker.[10] On June 1, 2016, Marcus publicly announced his support for Republican presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump.[11] He was one of Trump's largest donors, giving $7 million to his campaign.[12] When Marcus announced in 2019 that he would financially support the Donald Trump 2020 presidential campaign, it triggered calls for a boycott of Home Depot even though Marcus was no longer with the company.[13] In 2023 Marcus backed Trump's third consecutive campaign, regardless of whether he is convicted of crimes related to attempting to overthrow the 2020 democratic election.[14]


Marcus is a longtime philanthropist who plans to give away 90% of his $5.9 billion fortune to charity. Bernie and Billi Marcus are signatories of The Giving Pledge, a commitment to give away the majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes.[15] As of 2019, he has given away $2 billion to various philanthropic causes and has pledged to give away most of his $5.9 billion fortune.[16][17][18] Regardless, after a short drop to $4.6 billion in 2020, his wealth has doubled back to $9.8 billion in 2024. [19]

Marcus was one of the first signees of the Jewish Future Pledge, a charitable campaign launched in 2020 modeled after The Giving Pledge to encourage American Jews to designate at least 50% of their charitable giving to Jewish- or Israel-related causes.[20]

Marcus is chairman of the Marcus Foundation, whose focuses include children, medical research, free enterprise, military veterans, Jewish causes and the community.[21] Marcus is on the Board of Directors and an active volunteer for the Shepherd Center.[22] One of his main initiatives is providing care for war veterans with traumatic brain injuries.[23]

In May 2005, Marcus was awarded the Others Award by the Salvation Army, its highest honor.[2]

He was named a Georgia Trustee in 2009. The award is given by the Georgia Historical Society, in conjunction with the Governor of Georgia, to individuals whose accomplishments and community service reflect the ideals of the founding body of Trustees, which governed the Georgia colony from 1732 to 1752.[24] In 2012, Marcus was awarded the William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership.[25][26]


Jewish and Israeli[edit]

Marcus co-founded the Israel Democracy Institute in 1991, contributing $5 million for the construction of the institute's building in Jerusalem's Talbiya neighborhood and investing hundreds of millions of shekels in its ongoing operation over the years.[27] In 2016, Marcus and his wife Billi donated $25 million to the construction of the $133 million MDA Marcus National Blood Services Centre in Israel.[28]

The Georgia Aquarium[edit]

Marcus heavily contributed to the launch of the Georgia Aquarium, which opened in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, in 2005.[29] Based mostly on the $250 million donation for the Aquarium, Marcus and his wife, Billi, were listed among the top charitable donors in the country by The Chronicle of Philanthropy in 2005.

Medical research[edit]

Marcus funded and founded The Marcus Institute, a center for the provision of services for children and adolescents with developmental disabilities. Marcus founded and donated $25 million to Autism Speaks to spearhead its efforts to raise money for research on the causes and cure for autism. He is an active member of the board of directors.[30]


In 1999,[31][32] Marcus, along with Arthur Blank and Bob Andelman, wrote the book Built from Scratch: How a Couple of Regular Guys Grew The Home Depot from Nothing to $30 Billion.[33][34]

Marcus, with Catherine Lewis, wrote a book titled Kick Up Some Dust: Lessons on Thinking, Giving Back and Doing It Yourself.[35] The book debuted at The Book Festival of the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta (MJCCA) on November 6, 2022.[36]

Personal life[edit]

Marcus has been married twice. He has two children with his first wife, Ruth: Frederick Marcus and Susanne Marcus Collins. With his second wife, Billi, he has a stepson, Michael Morris.[37]


  1. ^ "Marcus, Bernie". Current Biography. 68 (8): 31. August 2007. ASIN B004U7D506.
  2. ^ a b c "Hall of Fame Biographies: Arthur Blank and Bernard Marcus". World Retail Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 2011-08-17. Retrieved 2009-05-27.
  3. ^ The Ultimate New Jersey High School Year Book
  4. ^ Smith, Scott S. (January 19, 2023). "Getting Fired Was The Best Thing To Happen To This Billionaire". Investor's Business Daily.
  5. ^ Sportelli, Natalie. "Billionaire Bernard Marcus Gives $75 Million To Atlanta Hospital". Forbes.
  6. ^ "Well-known alumni". Alpha Epsilon Pi. Archived from the original on July 1, 2008. Retrieved 2009-05-27.
  7. ^ Cain, Áine. "Here's what Home Depot looked like when it first opened in 1979". Business Insider.
  8. ^ McGovern, George S. (7 May 2009). "The 'Free Choice' Act is Anything but". Wall Street Journal.
  9. ^ Mandelbaum, Robb. "Who Funds This New Small Business-Group? Hint: Mostly Not Small Businesses". Forbes. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  10. ^ "Million-Dollar Donors in the 2016 Presidential Race". New York Times. 25 August 2015. Retrieved 14 October 2015.
  11. ^ "Why I Stand With Donald Trump - RealClearPolitics". Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  12. ^ "What Trump's major donors are spending in the midterms". OpenSecrets. 30 October 2018.
  13. ^ Held, Amy (July 10, 2019). "Home Depot Responds To Calls For Boycott Over Co-Founder's Support For Trump" – via NPR.
  14. ^ News, Bloomberg (November 10, 2023). "Billionaire Home Depot Co-Founder Bernard Marcus Backs Trump - BNN Bloomberg". BNN. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  15. ^ "Pledger Profiles". The Giving Pledge. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
  16. ^ Denham, Hannah (2019-07-01). "Home Depot co-founder plans to give away most of his billions". Washington Post. Retrieved 2023-01-27.
  17. ^ Kempner, Matt (2019-06-10). "Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus raises $117 million for nonprofits". ajc. Retrieved 2023-01-27.
  18. ^ Lam, Katherine (June 30, 2019). "Billionaire Bernie Marcus to donate majority of fortune, support Trump for re-election". FOXBusiness.
  19. ^ "Bernard Marcus". Forbes. Retrieved 2024-01-30.
  20. ^ Oster, Marcy (2020-05-14). "New Jewish giving pledge takes a page from Gates and Buffett initiative". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved 9 October 2023.
  21. ^ Wolfe, Josh (January 4, 2007). "Nano Talk With Bernie Marcus". Forbes/Wolfe Nanotech Report. Retrieved 2009-05-27.
  22. ^ "Shepherd Center, Donor Profile: Bernie Marcus". Archived from the original on 2010-07-07. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
  23. ^ Miller, T. Christian (December 21, 2010). "Philanthropist Provides Care That The Pentagon Won't". N.P.R. N.P.R. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
  24. ^ "Governor and Georgia Historical Society to Name First New Georgia Trustees in 260 Years". Savannah Daily News. 1 December 2008. Archived from the original on 2013-02-02. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
  25. ^ "The Philanthropy Roundtable announces Bernie Marcus as the 2012 recipient of the William E. Simon Prize". Retrieved 30 April 2012.
  26. ^ Jonathan V. Last. "Do It Yourself".
  27. ^ Sadeh, Shuki (17 March 2013). "How foreign donors reshaped Israel: A who's who". Haaretz. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
  28. ^ Voytko, Lisette. "Billionaire Bernie Marcus Promises Fortune To Charity (And Some To Trump)". Forbes.
  29. ^ Tharpe, Jim (May 29, 2005). Bernie Marcus makes mark with Georgia Aquarium The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  30. ^, 2013 Bernie Marcus' Philanthropic Profile Archived September 26, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  31. ^ "Built from Scratch: How a Couple of Regular Guys Grew T…". Goodreads.
  32. ^ Marcus, Bernie (January 27, 1999). Built from scratch: how a couple of regular guys grew the Home Depot from nothing to $30 billion. Times Business. ISBN 9780812930580. OL 381057M – via The Open Library.
  33. ^ Schmidt, Ann (August 1, 2020). "How Arthur Blank, Bernie Marcus co-founded Home Depot after being fired". FOXBusiness.
  34. ^ "How Bill Gates, Richard Branson and other billionaires made it big". South China Morning Post. August 12, 2020.
  35. ^ "Kick Up Some Dust by Bernie Marcus".
  36. ^ Heller, Sasha (October 13, 2022). "Bernie Marcus at 93 is Still Kicking Up Dust". Atlanta Jewish Times.
  37. ^ Reference for Business: "Bernie Marcus" retrieved March 30, 2014

Further reading[edit]

Business positions
Preceded by
CEO of Home Depot
Succeeded by